Douglas Ross must answer 'serious' questions over travel expenses, warns John Swinney

John Swinney said the claims are "very significant" and has demanded an explanation from Douglas Ross
-Credit: (Image: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)


Douglas Ross has “serious” questions to answer on whether he used Westminster expenses to travel for his job as a football linesman, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

Reports in the Sunday Mail claim the Scottish Conservative leader’s advisers flagged concerns over 28 parliamentary travel claims which may have been combined with his work as a linesman.

John Swinney has said the claims are “very significant” and has demanded Mr Ross explains the expenses in detail.

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Under UK parliamentary rules, MPs can only claim travel from their home airport – which was either Inverness or Aberdeen in Mr Ross’s case when he was MP for Moray.

They can also claim for “diverted” journeys, but must supply detailed notes on the diversion.

The newspaper states Mr Ross’s aides raised alarm in November 2021 over expense claims which included a £58 parking fee at Inverness Airport in July 2018 while Parliament was in recess.

It also stated £43 rail travel from Heathrow to central London was claimed the day after Mr Ross was a linesman in a match in Iceland.

Claims also include that he expensed a flight from London to Glasgow and £109 parking.

On November 1, 2020 it is alleged he claimed £48.99 for parking the day he refereed a Celtic game.

Mr Ross told the paper it was “not possible” to go from London to a football game as he would not have had his referee kit with him.

He said: “I have only ever claimed expenses related to my role as a member of Parliament and the costs of getting me to and from Westminster.

“These have all been agreed by IPSA, the independent body that oversees MPs’ expenses, but I would have no issue with them being scrutinised again.”

While Mr Swinney said he did not want to “jump to conclusions”, he told journalists in Paisley on Sunday: “The report in the Sunday Mail this morning about Douglas Ross allegedly using public funds to support his career as a football linesman raises very significant issues and I think Douglas Ross has got to set out all of the information about this particular issue.

“I’m not going to jump to conclusions about people. I don’t know the details about this, but (this) raises very, very significant concerns.

“Douglas Ross is normally the first to be out of the stables demanding that everybody sets out all of the information, so I think Mr Ross should do that right away because the story raises very significant and serious issues of the potential misuse of public funds.”

It comes after Mr Ross confirmed he is standing as a candidate in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East in the General Election, after previously ruling it out to focus on his Holyrood responsibilities.

He has come under fire for his handling of the issue after David Duguid was blocked from standing as the Scottish Tory candidate in the seat.

Mr Duguid was taken to hospital in April, with party management taking the decision that he is “unable to stand” due to ill health – which Mr Duguid has said is “simply incorrect”.